Again, despite having experience working in the Middle East I feel there are several blogs which contribute greater public discourse on the topic than I, considering I really only focus on that area a few days a week at most. One thing has recently caught my attention, however, with respect to the escalating situation with Iran.

Last week the administration couldn’t quite get its story straight with respect to the potential supply of weapons from Iranian special forces to Iraqi insurgents. Now one can look at various aspects of the media coverage over the past 6 months. One week Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is speaking about destroying Israel and the West, the next he wants diplomatic discussions. First they have a secret nuclear program, and then it is for peaceful purposes. Stories even run to the extreme on both sides of the fence from a conservative view that Iran wants to convert the world to Islam and a liberal interpretation that the US will conduct a false-flag attack on soldiers or sailors in the Gulf to justify limited bombing runs.

What I find interesting is the lack of reporting on the middle class democratic movement in Iran. Prior to the election of Ahmadinejad and the growing rhetoric on our two countries foreign policy, several stories were run discussing the US-Persian influence, via satellite on sympathetic ears inside Iran. The US government had even committed funds to support such efforts to expand the Iranian middle-class and expand the push for democracy. I have two questions: (1) where has the reporting on this situation gone and (2) have we succeeded in alienating the one constituency in Iran that may have supported us?


I have an upcoming article on the Iraq War, Shades of Thermopylae, but I wanted to go ahead and pass on the link to a blog hosting an excellent documentary and comment section.

You can find that here (graphic content warning).

If the US media could pull themselves away from astronauts in diapers, Anna Nicole Smith’s death, and Britney Spears shaving her head and getting a tattoo and going panty-less we might actually learn something about foreign policy other than “stay the course.”

Again, I don’t like to deviate much from my typical topics here at The Higher Bar but some things are hard to ignore. In the near future I will be contributing to another blog where I will cover such social issues on the media, policy and religion just to name a few. This particular post has to do with the popular media and their drastic need for improvement.

Who: CNN Headline News

When: 02/16/2007 -9:56am

What: Following the story covering a South Korean woman who sang 59 straight hours (Monday through Valentines Day) of kareoke for her dying husband, they transition to a story of a 4-ton rampaging elephant in Sri Lanka.

Segue: “They weren’t songs of love, but screams of fear as a a four-ton elephant went wild.”

The weekend is closing in and time to work on some of my more opinionated pieces. This month has provided a great deal of outstanding material to speak on the topic of freedom. From banning Superbowl Commercials to expelling students, our country is slipping down the PC river without a padel. We seem to keep forgetting, everyone has the right to be an ass. That’s right, I said it.

Amendment I – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Just take a look at some of the stories from the past few weeks:

(Incidentally I am currently formulating the most non-offensive Superbowl ad ever made, so marketing firms FYI.)

  • Tony Long’s recent article on violent video games, particularly Super Columbine Massacre RPG
  • NAACP probes Clemson college party (pictures available at The Smoking Gun)
  • Macalister College politically incorrect party under investigation
  • Find the illegal immigrant game at New York University draws protest
  • Satire of rape in Central Connecticut State University draws protests
  • San Diego skateboarder tazed after riding on sidewalk – Video here

Now because everyone has this right, doesn’t mean as a society they should be made to feel comfortable for their views, but they should not be fired, expelled, suspended, censored or forced into retirement. Despite not being a great movie, I’m reminded of the mayor of New York in the movie Ghostbusters II, “being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God given right.”

I don’t normally write about entertainment issues outside the realm of research or societal interest, but all the trouble the “devices” caused Boston last week, I couldn’t resist. So without further ado The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Trailer.

Warning: Could be considered an Al-Qaeda training video in Boston

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Cartoon Network Chief Resigns

I refrained from writing any articles analyzing the numerous Superbowl commercials this year. With all the buzz around the big game and the commercials anyway I figured it would just be useless clutter. I did however want to draw attention a NY Times article that attempts to follow along the same lines as my regular Commercial Culture posts. They explore the idea that the level of violence in this years commercials, “cartoonish” as it may be, could reflect the toll the Iraq War is having on the American psyche.

No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.

More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.

For instance, in a commercial for Bud Light beer, sold by Anheuser-Busch, one man beat the other at a game of rock, paper, scissors by throwing a rock at his opponent’s head.

In another Bud Light spot, face-slapping replaced fist-bumping as the cool way for people to show affection for one another. In a FedEx commercial, set on the moon, an astronaut was wiped out by a meteor. In a spot for Snickers candy, sold by Mars, two co-workers sought to prove their masculinity by tearing off patches of chest hair.

While I agree that it is likely that the images of war we see daily manifest themselves in ways we cannot immediately explain in our everyday lives; I think men ripping the hair from their chest after having accidentally kissed may be linked to other psychological issues rather than the current state of our foreign policy.

My personal favorite from last night and it appears was a big winner: Blockbuster’s Total Access Mouse

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Superbowl’s Appeal to the Younger Viewer?

The not so hidden costs of the Superbowl

Following the exploits of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the Superbowl in 2004 a new wave of American Puritanism began, resulting in the over-enthusiastic FCC to label everything obscene, regardless, the show must go on. In early January I posted an article under my Commercial Culture tag comparing the popularity of beer and wine as a distribution of football viewers.

Although I did not have access to a great deal of market information, it appeared that as with many institutions in our society, the average football viewer is aging, meaning that not as many younger people are becoming football fans or playing youth football; certainly not at a rate to replace the aging boomers.

Earlier tonight I watched the Superbowl (on a personal note, I hate the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning). If it is truly the goal of the NFL to start drawing a younger fan base, let me ask, does it make sense to have Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel, and Prince be the highlighted performers? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac (Prince, not so much), but I don’t see the logic here. The commercial spots surrounding the performers were as such:

Billy Joel
Before – CBS: CSI Miami,
After – Movie: Norbit

Before – NFL: Walter Peyton Man of the Year
After – Pepsi*

* In all fairness, Pepsi was the sponsor of the halftime show, so it makes sense they would have one of the sandwich spots. I do on the other hand find it ironic that they were once “The Choice of a New Generation.”

Gloria Estefan & Cirque du Soleil
Before – CBS: Survivor
After – Combos Pretzel Snacks

By and large, it would seem these commercials appeal to the opposite crowd based on the relative popularity of the artists.

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The not so hidden costs of the Superbowl 

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